Thursday, January 28, 2016

What I Read in August 2015 Part VII

What I Read in August 2015 Part VII ...

Cocaine Blues (Phryne Fisher #1) by Kerry Greenwood-- Historical Mystery

Cocaine Blues (Phryne Fisher, #1)Phryne Fisher solves a mystery at a Society party in England and is asked by some guests to go to Australia and find out why their married daughter seems so healthy when she's visiting them but as soon as she returns home, she becomes sick again. Could her husband be poisoning her? Phryne returns to her native Australia, which she left in poverty as a child, now traveling First Class at her own expense. She travels with her good friend, the lady doctor Dr. MacMillan, who plans to work at a women's hospital in Melbourne. Upon arriving in Melbourne, Phryne discovers more mysteries to solve. There's a butcher of an abortionist on the loose despite raping and causing the deaths of several women. There's also a cocaine ring in Melbourne and no one knows who the Snow King is. She meets the exiled Russian Princesse de Grass and her grandchildren, Sasha and Ellie, talented ballet dancers, who are also searching for the cocaine dealer. Phryne is immediately attracted to Sasha but is wary that he wants more from her than she is willing to give. She's determined to solve all three mysteries with the help of her taxi driver friends Bert and Ces and Dr. MacMillan.

This plot has WAY too much going on. It didn't hold my interest very well and I ended up skipping and skimming to the end. There was way too much graphic content in this novel for my taste. Not only is there cocaine, there is also abortion, stabbings, sex, sexual content, shooting and seedy locations. Not to mention motor cars speeding around Melbourne, which I am not used to. I don't think this time period appeals to me or I prefer characters who simply don't know any of the bad stuff exists or it all happens off page. I prefer more cutesy cozy mysteries set in the staid drawing rooms of Regency and Victorian London. I wasn't entirely surprised by the identity of the Snow King. I did suspect another character. The character I suspected doesn't even have a role in the plot until the very end so I felt they were superfluous and added to the density of the plot.

I wasn't wild about Phryne. Though I appreciate Society women who buck the system, Phryne is a bit too free and loose for my reading tastes. She's also rather egotistical in believing herself capable of solving all the mysteries easily. She is also a bit cold. The story doesn't dig very deeply into her thoughts or feelings. Everything is told as a matter-of-fact.

The characters I really liked were Bert and Cec, the Communist taxi drivers. They provide the comic relief and another mystery to solve. (Which didn't need to be in story at all). I also liked Phryne's new maid, Dot. She is a tough girl but also sweet and devoted to Phryne.

I will read the next book in the series and see how I like it.

Flying Too High (Phryne Fisher, #2)Flying Too High (Phryne Fisher #2) by Kerry Greenwood-- Historical Mystery

Phryne Fisher is a full-fledged private investigator now, which is why she is completely annoyed when the Police Inspector assigned to her latest case dismisses her because she's a woman. She was asked specifically by Mrs. McNoughton to keep her son from killing her husband. Now the husband is dead and the son is accused of murder. Phryne is certain that Bill didn't do it, bully though he may be like his father. No one denies that Mr. McNoughton deserved death but Phryne is determined to figure out the case. When she's called upon to investigate the kidnapping of an aviator's six-year-old daughter, she leaves the McNoughton case in the capable hands of Bert and Cec and turns her attentions to the mystery of Candida. She may be a difficult 6 year old but her parents are beside themselves with worry and can't wait to get her back but fear the villains may harm the child if they make a movie. Never fear! Phryne Fisher is on the job with several friends to assist.

I liked this mystery better than the first one. I would have liked it a lot more if it didn't contain 2 graphic sexual encounters, child molesters, period correct racist language (there's no need for a modern writer to include that, accurate though it may be) and a heroine who doesn't seem to let herself feel any sort of emotion. I never figured out the McNoughton case at all. I was completely off-base with my theories. The kidnapping case was more interesting but the reader is taken along with Candida so we know who did it and why, we just have to wait until Phryne discovers the clues. How she rescued the child was brilliant -far fetched but entertaining and interesting. I had a hard time putting this one down.

Phryne still annoys me. She's cold and analytical. She's also too intelligent to be believable. she solves the McNoughton case pretty much right away. She just needs proof. She coldly seduces an awkward young doctor just for fun and has another sexual encounter that I can not forgive. She was not only working, she knew what he was like and she knew he was engaged to her client! Who does that?

There are some new characters here. There's the dysfunctional McNoughton family. I felt bad for Mrs. McNoughton, who is bullied by her husband and is overcome with nerves after finding his dead body. I feel worse for Amelia who was the real victim in the family. She seems strong and I liked her and the way she took control of her future. Bill seems like a copy of his father but slightly toned down. I think in the future he'll learn from his father's mistakes and be a little more kind. Then there's six-year-old Candida Alice Maldon. I hate children in novels but I liked Candida. She's smart, brave and one of those wise, precocious kids. She reminded me a little of my nieces who are around the same age. I also loved Candida's unintentional way of fending off her kidnapper. She added a bit of lightness into the dark plot. I wasn't enthused with her parents but they were preoccupied by moving and the baby. I didn't get the impression they cared too much about Candida until she was gone. Then I liked the Maldons better. There's one more new character that I couldn't help but like for their kindness. They didn't seem that bright and found themselves mixed up in something that was over their head.

The villains in this story are very evil, with the exception of one. I didn't like just how evil the chief villain was. Though his sin was mentioned in passing, it became more tangible at the end and I didn't really understand or like Phryne's solution. The female villain was a pill but I don't know if she was evil.

I probably won't read more of this series but I may check out the TV show.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave comments and or suggestions for QNPoohBear, the modern bluestocking.